Kendrick Lamar talks Drake, Rich Kidd, Toronto and more [Interview]
Los Angeles, CA – HipHopCanada’s LA office is open for business! It’s a gloomy Friday afternoon in Hollywood and it’s time for sound check at the Music Box for the PROJECT RISHI & DWC Benefit. As we enter the venue, Compton native Kendrick Lamar is already on stage, going over his set list and stage directions with his DJ. Within the past year, this 24-year-old gained major attention through the release of his mixtape (O)verly (D)edicated, and then his album Section.80 (released exclusively on iTunes earlier this July) which ranked as one of the top digital releases of the year. Watching him rehearse, and even being in the audience at one of his shows, will show you Kendrick’s passion and drive for music. It’s very evident that he pours his whole heart into each and every performance.
HipHopCanada was lucky enough to get an exclusive interview with the young artist prior to his Music Box performance. This is the first of many pieces to come from the newly established HipHopCanada-LA team lead by Sina Tash. Click the jump link to read the interview, and stay tuned for more!
HipHopCanada: Alright Kendrick, tell us a little about yourself—where you’re from, what you do, who you are?
Kendrick Lamar: Kendrick Lamar, straight out of Compton, California. I started doing music when I was thirteen; I actually started writing my first rhymes. Got in the studio at sixteen, [and] that’s when I felt like I wanted to make this a career. I had a passion for it; you know what I’m saying? I went back and studied the game, was a student of the game and worked on my craft and dedicated myself, you know? A lot of my music revolves around me growing up in Compton. I want to tell a different story that’s never been told before, of a good kid in a mad city. Where… we all, we all good people just trying to escape the negative influence that come around us and that’s the story of my life, you know? Trying my best to get around the ills and I bumped my head a few times but I think, you know, music is my savior for right now, for me and my whole group.
HipHopCanada: Having started at K. Dot, what made you make the transition to Kendrick Lamar?
Kendrick Lamar: It was just a growth, you know, a growth period, man. You know, K. Dot was a kid who was trying to find himself in music, finding trends, um, bending towards—ready to bend towards what the industry was telling me to do and after you mature at a certain time in your life, you come into your own…your own niche, your own personality, not only as an artist but as a person. I felt like, what better way for people to understand me, you know, by taking the initiative in giving my real name, my name that moms taught me so y’all actually know what’s going on in my life and my music.
HipHopCanada: If someone has never heard of you, what would be the best way to describe yourself?
Kendrick Lamar: The best way to describe myself would be…unpredictable [Laughing].
Kendrick Lamar: Yeah, just like the city. I can be calm and reflective from time to time and other times I can have a burst of energy, you know? That’s just me.
HipHopCanada: Being no stranger to touring, where are some of your favorite places/cities you’ve performed in?
Kendrick Lamar: Real talk, we talk about this all the time and I was just talking to Drake about this – Toronto’s one of my favourite places. If I were to move anywhere out of California, it would be Toronto. Definitely.
HipHopCanada: Who are some of your favorite Canadian artists? Producers? People you’ve worked with, or want to work with?
Kendrick Lamar: Uh, from what I remember, I remember always being a big fan of Kardinal Offishall. He just had that different flow and different flavor, you know? He put himself on the record and that’s the type of energy that we love. Of course, Drizzy . I want to work with The Weeknd, by the way, that’s for sure. My dude Rich Kidd, definitely. I got two records on the album right now that I’ve done with him and it’s crazy.
HipHopCanada: Speaking of Drizzy, how was it being on the Take Care album?
Kendrick Lamar: Oh, it was dope, man. A great experience, you know, especially with the topic he was talking about and to be… organic. I’m glad that it worked out the way it did where I got to tell my story, and you know, tell his story at the same time… and actually have it make sense as far as the whole concept of the album. That’s a good dude, man, he’s been looked out and reached out, and I admire the talent.
HipHopCanada: How did you get in contact with him?
Kendrick Lamar: Um, he reached out to me through Chase N Cashe, you know, they’re brothers, they’re one. Chase N Cashe made the connection, played some of my music and he [Drake] got up on it, got interested in the music and just reached out and said “You know what, let’s work.”
HipHopCanada: Could you give us a little more information on the Club Paradise tour?
Kendrick Lamar: Right now, we did a couple spots in Illinois, we did Penn State. The tour’s supposed to schedule back up after the New Year. I guess it was a situation where they wanted the album to drop first, you know, and get the energy around it then go back out on the road and rock out on these college shows and stuff.
HipHopCanada: Can you see yourself working with Drake more in the future?
Kendrick Lamar: Oh, definitely.
HipHopCanada: And who are some of the artists you’re listening to right now?
Kendrick Lamar: Right now? I’m listening to a lot of oldies right now. A lot of Al Green, Marvin Gaye. Luther Vandross… they were some of my icons.
HipHopCanada: Any artists you’d want to work with?
Kendrick Lamar: Yeah, I want to work with Gunplay from Triple C’s, Maybach.
HipHopCanada: Any particular reason why?
Kendrick Lamar: I just love his energy, he’s crazy. He’s crazy on the mic, too. He can rap. I don’t know if nobody ever listened to him and really listened to what he’s talking about, but, he can kick some shit.
HipHopCanada: What’s the HiiiPower Movement?
Kendrick Lamar: The HiiiPower Movement is a movement that’s going on all throughout the world like a virus. You know, it’s about being on a higher level than the industry. It’s a movement we started to be above all the bullshit that’s been going on.
HipHopCanada: Going back to the last show you performed, how did you feel with Snoop, Dre, Game all crowning you the new ‘King of the West’?
Kendrick Lamar: If feels great, man. You know, it’s a long time coming as far as the work that I put in. Now I know that I got the stamp but what counts is what comes behind. That’s what’s really important. Upholding that stamp and not only, you know, keeping the energy my way but also spreading that energy out to other artists that are coming up on the West Coast.
HipHopCanada: Speaking of which, what are some of your most memorable moments?
Kendrick Lamar: I got too many of those, man. When I got hit by a car on a bike. I got hit by a fucking car. That’s what popped into my head right now [Laughing]. Being a wild little nigga running around, we got the GT Dynos and I thought I was the shit, not looking both ways. Stupid kid shit and the car knocked me all the way out to the curb.
Kendrick Lamar: Yeah [Laughing]
HipHopCanada: What do you think differentiates the underground from the mainstream?
Kendrick Lamar: I think the people. The people definitely shape the two, put stamps and classify mainstream and underground music.
HipHopCanada: We’re going to mention some albums and mixtapes. Tell us the first thing that comes into your mind.
Kendrick Lamar: Mhmm.
HipHopCanada: (O)verly (D)edicated.
Kendrick Lamar: Start.
HipHopCanada: Training Day.
Kendrick Lamar: The beginning.
Kendrick Lamar: Groundbreaking.
HipHopCanada: Kendrick Lamar EP.
Kendrick Lamar: Introduction.
HipHopCanada: Lastly, who’s your top five, dead or alive?
Kendrick Lamar: Tupac, of course, Jay-Z, Nas, Eminem, Andre 3000… how many was that?
HipHopCanada: Five, but one more for good luck?
Kendrick Lamar: For good luck? Kendrick Lamar [Laughing].
Written by Hannah Renee for HipHopCanada
Coordinated by Sina Tash for HipHopCanada
Previously on HipHopCanada.com